MIND/BODY CONNECTION

Nothing Changes, Nothing Remains the Same

Dave Draper

Page 1

I park a block from the gym and hear the clanking of plates echoing down the street. Come to think of it, I hear the clanking of plates in my dreams, under anesthesia and under water.

The doctors say it’s an occupational hazard, like repetitive-use syndrome, battle fatigue or posttraumatic stress. I listen to the irregular, high-pitched concussions even when I don’t hear them—my built-in metronome, my internal clock, my heartbeat, my rhythm and rhyme, my song.

Time to get to work. First I sit in the corner by the lifting platform, collect myself and check out the scene. The flight of stairs from the parking lot knocks me out. You laugh, but my gym bag weighs as much as a Chevy short block. Got my stuff in there: food, drink, special gadgets, wraps, belt and things that crawl and go bump in the night. I also have WD-40, never again to be mistaken for underarm deodorant. Yow-za, Momma!

Everything looks cool. Back doors are wide open, fans are blowing, my bench is free, and a few friendly faces dot the gym. A slug of water—make sure it’s water and not DMSO—and I’m on my way.

It’s a sunny Sunday in coastal California, and anybody with half a brain is outdoors enjoying the good life: beach, hiking, biking, boating and picnicking. How would I know, you ask, as I don’t know anybody with half a brain? Ha. Very cute. Laree has half a brain, wiseguy!

Today is a day of trial and error. Actually, every day is a day of trial and error, but this one is specific: some low-input squats and deadlifts to test the body’s mechanics, range of motion, endurance and strength and lack thereof.

Good grief! Whose idea was this?

I’m strong and courageous, but I’m not overly inspired. I’m attentive and dedicated, but I’m not exactly happy. The workout will be done, but I’m not about to set any records. To exercise and determine my abilities: That is my purpose.

I start with the usual blend of crunches, leg raises and rope tucks to warm up, shape up and tighten up my midsection (dream on). Focus is achieved; effort and finesse are dialed in.

At the start, midway and in completion, it’s clear my level of input is seriously compromised. Fatigue is immediate and not amenable to friendly persuasion. It must be the long week and previous workouts, the hot weather, sleep limitations and the possible loss of precious bodyweight. Rats! Time for plan B.

Plan B is whatever I feel like doing that can be done without overdoing it, exclusive of packing up and going home. When the weights seem nailed to the floor and the burn feels more like a sting, the pump’s in the dumps and I know a quick exit is off-limits, I return to my gym bag, a headquarters of sorts, and think.

Another slug of water—I give myself 30 seconds, tops. Reviewing previous workouts, assessing my physical responses and considering my desires and needs, I make my conclusions. Intuition surfaces.

Biceps and triceps it is, with whatever stray muscles I can drag along in the act—a spot of shoulders, a chunk of chest and a bit of back. Arms will dominate, and there’ll be no leg work today.

I feel better knowing deadlifts and squats aren’t in my immediate future. Another time they’ll be appropriate; they’ll rule, lead the way, take me where I must go. Not today. The decision is run through my trusty ICM (internal copout meter), and the readings are just fine: no alarms, no doubts, no guilt, no fear; no way, José.

I can blast an arm workout when the reserves are low—mental, physical, emotional and motivational. A good arm workout can be established within a few light sets of attentive warmups—supersetting standing barbell curls with dips. That’s a 50-year-old quickie workout favorite when in a pinch, as the moves are easy to set up, familiar, comfortable, fun and provide a pump, an agreeable burn, a slow rise in heart rate, body warmth and breathing, offering the first delicious slurps of progress, direction and investment.

I’m beginning to cook, and a mini blast is before me.


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